By Keisha Bell
When you reflect upon your educational experience, how does it compare to what our youth is experiencing today? Have we, as a nation, accepted as a conclusion that thousands and thousands of children across the country will simply not be afforded a high-quality education? Have we accepted that for our own children?
Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, of Wilmington, Del., was educated in Red Clay Consolidated School District and graduated from A.I DuPont High School. Afterward, she earned a degree in film and linguistics from New York University. Lockman obtained a master’s degree in urban affairs and public policy from the University of Delaware.
Having returned to her hometown, it was after Lockman enrolled her daughter into the Wilmington school system that she increasingly became aware of the troubling school trends in the area. Student performance was declining, schools were re-segregating, and the opportunities that Red Clay’s schools had afforded her were simply not there.
In 2015, when the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee issued its first public report, its conclusions reflected what many knew but what few public officials would dare say. The report stated:
“Today thousands of Wilmington children, most of them poor, black, or Latino, still do not have access to high-quality public education. Judged on most outcomes—test scores, truancy, graduation rates, college attendance, socio-emotional well-being, drug use, homelessness, arrests, and unemployment—these children have become data points for a system of failure. Various groups address these challenges by blaming each other; government officials, parents, educational advocates, community and business leaders, unions, educational administrators, teachers, and, at times, even the children themselves are blamed for the failures of public education. This confrontational dialogue, which has generally focused on how one group can hold another group accountable, is now an embedded feature of Wilmington education.”
This is not unique to Wilmington, Del.
Lockman’s advocacy to better education grew. What resulted is a path into the political arena.
Last year, Lockman announced that she would be challenging then Delaware State Senator Robert Marshall. She felt compelled to run against Marshall, a man who held the seat for 40 years. Lockman wanted to change the “old political ways” in the state.
Initially, Marshall planned to campaign for re-election. He said that he wanted to continue the public service he started in 1979. Earlier this year, however, Marshall announced that he would not seek re-election. He informed the voters of this on Facebook stating, “I look forward to devoting more time to business interests.”
With the incumbent out of the race, Lockman needed to defeat Jordan Hines. In the Primary Election this year, she did. Because there is no Republican challenger, Lockman will be the next Delaware State Senator for District 3.
“Every one of us deserves to have hope for a bright future,” says Lockman. “We must make the choice now, at this critical moment, to elect leaders who are committed not just to speaking for others, but to elevating voices and empowering the actions of residents, to listening and creating policies that put people first.”
She instills hope.
Keisha Bell is an attorney, author, and public servant. www.emergingfree.com